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US politicians deliver wake up call to Zelensky

Three US congressmen visiting Kiev on Monday promised Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky continued American support, but warned that Israel now requires Washington’s attention as well.

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Zelensky’s office shared a five-minute video of the meeting between the Ukrainian leadership and the US delegation, consisting of Republican J. French Hill of Arkansas and Democrats Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and Mike Quigley of Illinois.

“We respect you, the Republican and Democratic Party, the administration of President Joseph Biden, and also both houses of the American Congress united in support of Ukraine,” Zelensky told his visitors. “This will send a powerful signal to the world for those who will win in the struggle for our spiritual values – freedom and democracy.”

Hill assured Zelensky of “bipartisan support” on Capitol Hill but noted that the US now had to deal with helping Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza. 

“Your fight is our fight,” said Lynch, vowing that Congress will keep funding aid to Ukraine.

Quigley, who is a major booster of Kiev, urged Zelensky to offer more arguments for economic and humanitarian aid in addition to the military assistance, adding that the US is interested in helping Ukraine “become more self-sufficient” in terms of ammunition supply.

“I understand that there is a need for 155 mm shells, but Israel needs them too,” Quigley told Zelensky, according to the Kiev translation of his remarks.

It was unclear what kind of self-sufficiency Quigley had in mind, since Ukraine has been entirely dependent on Western deliveries of weapons and ammunition for over a year, as both its military and its industry became degraded by the conflict with Russia.

Biden has asked Congress for $64 billion in funding for Ukraine, bundled in the $104 billion bill that includes aid for Israel. Last week, the White House changed its “messaging” strategy to argue that sending Kiev money is actually “strengthening the American economy and creating new American jobs.”

While US military contractors have pocketed most of the $44 billion in military aid the US has allocated to Kiev since February of last year, this has not translated into more American jobs or industrial production, NBC News reported on Saturday.

Visiting the US last month, Zelensky told Congress that if US aid dries up, Ukraine “will lose,” according to a Time Magazine story published on Monday. Even if the US and its allies can somehow maintain the pace of weapons and ammunition deliveries, Ukraine has taken so many casualties at this point that it doesn’t have the men to use them, some of Zelensky’s aides recently told Time.

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